Reini’s Lines—The Man Behind the World’s Greatest Climbing Gym

Kletterzentrum Innsbruck has become the number one training ground for world champion climbers. This is the story of Reini Scherer—the man, myth and legend who built KI.

“If you want to climb hard, you have to climb hard.”

Reini Scherer is showing off the routes of his gym like an artist giving you a tour of his oeuvre.

8a+, 8c, 8c+.  9a+, 8b, 8c …

The list goes on.

As the epicenter of the world’s best climbers, Kletterzentrum Innsbruck—known as KI—demands routes at the precipice of the sport. After all, this is the preferred training ground for world champions from the competition circuit. This is the lab where legends are made. It’s only fitting that a facility like KI was the vision of a man like Reini. For nearly four decades, Reini has been putting up lines for others to climb.

“It was clear from the beginning on,” he says. “Without routes, there won’t be any climbing.”

Born in the eastern part of Tirol, in a small village in the mountains, Reini started climbing at the age of 14. By 1985, he was already making waves in the sport with first ascents up to 8a in famous areas like the Verdon in France. By 1991, Reini was at the pinnacle of the sport, having established one of Austria’s first 8c’s.

Still an avid first ascensionist, Reini reckons he’s now bolted over 1500 hundred pitches. Ironically, it’s not the plethora of routes he’s established outside that have had the biggest impact on the sport. Reini’s greatest contribution as a developer are the lines inside KI—one of the world’s greatest climbing gyms. After mentoring the Austrian climbing team in the early 2000’s, Reini saw the need for a facility to train the strongest climbers alive. So, in 2007, he began having discussions with the city of Innsbruck to build a gym.

“It took me more than 10 years to get to KI,” says Reini.

The dedication has paid off. With more than 600 routes, plus bouldering walls, boards, fitness facilities, a café, etc., KI has become the gym of choice for many traveling world cup climbers. A quick walk through on any given day can reveal a who’s who of the sport’s elite. From living legends like Yuji Hirayama to world champions like Jakob Schubert and Katha Saurwein, KI is often brimming with talent. But Reini is quick to point out that there is something for everyone at KI.

“It was always important to put the athletes and the normal customers together,” says Reini. “I want the 6b climber to have a look at Jakob Schubert. We want to show you how cool climbing is.”

It’s this eclectic mix of abilities and cultures that makes KI truly special. No matter your level, KI is a home for anyone who loves climbing.

Reini Scherer in front of a crag

“The thing that I realized after all these years is, it doesn’t matter how hard you climb. It’s just that you do it with your heart.”

Reini Scherer and his tools of choice for the mountains